Sloths sleep most of the day. They eat what's within reach, mostly, and because pickings are slim when you're upside down in a tree, they conserve energy rather than go hunt down more grub. After digesting this vegetation, they wait for a rainstorm to disguise the release of waste products, as any attention by predators would leave them and their limited muscle mass helpless. If a week has gone by dry, they slowly make their way down the tree and dispose of about two pounds of feces, about a fifth of their body weight. Then, they make their way back up to sleep off the journey.

Today I helped research and sew a sloth for a shoebox diorama. Yesterday, I received a rejection letter for an essay on zeal. This rejection was passionate, let me tell you. Full of zest. Good thing it was from a Christian publication, or they might have just outrightly said, "You suck. Give it up now."

One of the criticisms at my attempt to address zeal was that saying we ought to have fervor just makes the reader feel guilty. "Does nothing to help us actually gain it."

And I ask you: How do I make you feel zeal?

If I knew the answer, I'd write a bestseller and rouse the world. But I can only lead the horses to water. I can't make them drink anymore than I can make you fall in love. All I can do is point you toward examples.

Like this one: According to The National Zoo's website, sloths know how to bring a little passion to the table when it's called for.
Most individual sloths are solitary creatures, so when a female is ready to mate, she lets out a high-pitched scream in the middle of the night to attract a mate. Within a few hours, any males in the area slowly move in her direction. If two males arrive at the same time, they each grasp a tree branch with their back legs and swing one or both front legs at one another. The males continue their upside-down wrestling match until one gives up and leaves. *
Now, I know better than to suggest you find inspiration in the sloth; I don't want you to feel guilty. But if a creature who sleeps 18 hours a day can find it in himself to wrestle upside down for a little love, well, hell. He deserves a mention.

*this didn't make it into the diorama


  1. We're science nuts so I love the sloth stuff -- and I'm Catholic so I love the zeal stuff, too --excellent virtue!

  2. Great! Just don't combine "Sloth" with "Catholic," and you'll be just fine!

  3. I have zeal for the idea of being a sloth, but guilt for having slept in until 9am yesterday.


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